Hiking Paradise of Peru

The city of Huaraz in Peru is the base for the mountains of the higher Huascaran National Park. As almost all tourists arrive in Huaraz and spend the night, this region is popularly called Huaraz. In this article, you will find information about the best sights of Huaraz and its surrounding area. I also listed my recommendations for tours and where to stay.

Huaraz is located at an altitude of 3,052 meters and is called the hiking paradise of Peru. This city is located on the Cordilla Blanco mountain range with several mountains above 6,000 meters. You will also find glaciers and countless bright blue lakes. The city is the starting point for multi-day trekking and day tours in the Huascaran National Park. I did several during my trip through Peru.

The official name is Huascaran National Park, which comes from the highest mountain in Peru: the Huarascán. With a height of 6,768 meters, it is the 4th highest mountain in South America. When you go hiking you will encounter countless steep mountains. There is snow on the peaks for large parts of the year.

Huaraz City

The surroundings of Huaraz.

The town itself is not very interesting, although it does offer a lively market, east of the Plaza de Armas. If you want to spend the night, you will find many hostels and hotels in various price ranges. You will also find all kinds of restaurants with Peruvian food as well as international. Think of burgers, pizzas, Mexican and Indian for example. It is often very good and relatively cheap, except for alcoholic drinks. These are often a lot more expensive in comparison. You will also find numerous tour operators that offer multi-day and day trips. You can arrange this on the spot before your trip.

The city is located in a valley between two mountains. The most famous is Cordillera Blanca. On the other side of Huaraz is the Cordillera Negro. This is a mountain range without glaciers, but still impressive.

The Andes Mountains

One of the many tours you can do from Huaraz.

The Andes Mountains in South America are the longest continental mountain range in the world. Machu Picchu is located in the mountains, but also Colca Canyon and the Inca capital Cusco, for example. Huaraz is less known, except for hikers and mountain enthusiasts. According to many, this is the most beautiful mountain range in Peru.

The glacier-covered mountains have wonderful names such as Huandoy, Huascaran, Chacraraju, Pisco and Yanapaccha. They tower high above the landscape and are often in the clouds. The lakes are full of minerals from the glaciers of these mountains, which is why they have an unprecedented blue colour. You don't need a filter or Photoshop for your photos.

Day-Tours Huaraz

There are many excursions to choose from if you are staying in the city. They are often fully arranged trips. With some, you have to pay for lunch yourself, sometimes in cash. Keep this in mind. These are the most popular tours, but also lesser-known ones.

Laguna 69 (6/7 Hours Round Trip)

The beauty of Laguna 69.

Laguna 69 is according to many the most beautiful lake and therefore the best day trip. This bright blue glacial lake is located at an altitude of 4,550 meters. This means that you still have to hike a solid part, of which a large part is uphill. This lake is accessible through the place of Yungay.

There are several tours to the lake. Ask in Huaraz about the possibilities. It is best to go early in the day to avoid most other tourists. The journey to the starting point of the trekking takes more than an hour and a half by bus, and therefore also back.

Llanganuco (6 Hours)

Lake Llanganuco is even beautiful with rain. ©Corno van den Berg

The famous lake of Llanganuco (3,850 meters) is also accessible via this entrance to the national park. It is actually two lakes. You have Llanganuco Chinancocha (the female lake) and Llanganuco Orkoncocha (the male lake). The guide will tell you why the lakes have these names. With good weather, it is possible to take out a boat on the lake. As with the trip to Laguna 69, you need an hour and a half to get there.

Chavín (7 Hours)

The ruins of Chavin in the Peruvian mountains. ©Corno van den Berg

The ruins of Chavín are more than impressive. Especially when you walk around the old temple and underground passages. Or along the playing field and learn how the construction was built along the rivers. The Chavín were a pre-Inca people, which means they lived before the Inca. They were a good inspiration for the Incas, which is obvious when you visit the ancient city. These people have a flourishing culture between the years 1,200 and 800 BC. If you are interested in Incas, Chavín is also a must.

Half-Day Tours

Half-day tours are also on display. These are usually organized in the morning, but some tours can also be done in the afternoon.

Querococha (3 Hours)

The Querococha lake is very easy to reach. ©Corno van den Berg

Lake Querococha is located at an altitude of 3,980 meters. Behind the lake, you can see imposing mountains. Although this lake is located along the main road, it is definitely worth a stop. The water is also extremely blue, with even a golden yellow beach. You can go on the lake with a boat. You pass this beautiful lake when you travel to the excavations of Chavin from Huaraz.

Mountain Biking

Mountainbiking at Huaraz. ©Corno van den Berg

In addition to trekking, you can also go mountain biking. Where you cycle past fields full of roses and strawberries, past houses where women do the laundry and the views are magical. I went out with Michael Araya from Andes Bike. He took me to the Copa Pass, a viewpoint of the mighty mountains. You can choose whether you want to cycle uphill or just downhill.

Multi-Day trekking

It is also possible to do multi-day trekking in the Huascaran National Park. This is usually done in groups with a qualified guide.

Santa Cruz Trek (4 Days)

A glacier at Huarascan National Park.

The Santa Cruz Trek is famous and shows the most beautiful parts of the Huarascan National Park. It is not a difficult route, although there are steep parts. You have to be in good condition to do this. This is roughly the route you will follow:

  • Day 01: Depart from Huaraz and drive to the small village of Cashapampa (2,900 meters) to meet your donkeys and begin your trek through the beautiful Santa Cruz Valley. You will hike for approximately 4 hours before setting up camp and arriving in the evening at an area called Llamacorral (2,900m)
  • Day 02: Continue the tour past numerous mountains such as Quitaraju (6,040 m), Alpamayo (5,947 m) and Artezonraju (6,025 m), to camp at the foot of the impressive Taulliraju (5,830 m)
  • Day 03: This is the longest day, ascending on a zigzagging path along the turquoise lagoon of Taullicocha passing Punta Union (4,750m), Chacraraju (6,112m), Santa Cruz (6,259m) and Rinrihirca (5,810m) before descending to Morococha
  • Day 04: Descend to the small Andean town of Colcabamba (3,350 m), and climb to Vaquería (3,700 m) then drive to Llanganuco Lake and return to the town of Huaraz

Huayhuash Trek (10-12 Days)

The famous Three Lakes on the Huayhuash Trek.

The Huayhuash Trek is considered by many adventure and nature enthusiasts as one of the most spectacular trekking circuits in the Andes. It takes you through the entire Huayhuash area in 12 days, taking you through mountain passes between 4,600 and 5,000 meters. You camp near beautiful lakes below the snowy peaks, following trails that take you to sweeping viewpoints. The views of the landscapes along the way are impressive, as is visiting legendary places such as the base camp of the Siulá Grande mountain. This became known through the epic story 'Touching The Void' by rock climber Joe Simpson. You will also see a great diversity of flora and fauna. The total distance is 120 kilometres. It is best to arrange this trek in advance, although it is also possible to book when you are in Huaraz.

Overnight camp during Huayhuash Trek.

Practical Information

With many excursions, take into account that you sometimes spend hours in the car before you arrive at your destination. And so hours back. Fortunately, the landscape is more than impressive. There is plenty to see along the way, and there are also several stops along the way.

Bring your swimsuit if you would like to swim. Although the water of both the waterfalls and the lakes can be incredibly cold. In good weather, you can see people going into the water.

Accommodations in Huaraz

The city of Huaraz is the perfect base for all your adventures. There are several hotels in various price ranges and luxury. You will find hostels, hotels and bed & breakfasts.

Find the best accommodations in Huaraz 

My recommendation is Selina Huaraz

Best Time to Visit

From April to September, it is usually warm and sunny, while from October to January it can be wet and very cloudy. In February and March, it often rains. I noticed that the weather is often nice in the morning, while in the afternoon it can become cloudy with even rain. Keep this in mind when you visit Huaraz.

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